tv BBC World News America PBS August 23, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
what can we do for you? >> and now, "bbc world news america." >> this is "bbc world news america." the battle for tripoli intensifies. the rebels attacked a symbol of power. there are scenes of celebration in the capitol tonight but after a few days of heavy fighting, colonel gaddafi's whereabouts are not known. reporting from washington, i am jeane o'brien. a section of assault charges are dropped against dominique strauss-kahn.
welcome to aaa. welcome to what has been an extraordinary day in the libyan capital. what has been a long and brutal six months of the battle for libya. that battle has moved here to the capital, tripoli. the rebels overran the symbol of colonel gaddafi's power in the capital. the battle of the splendid gate. it was a victory for the rebels in the heart of tripoli. green square is where most of the celebrations have been taking place, now renamed martyr's square. there were scenes of support for the revolutionary leader. the big question is where is
colonel gaddafi after his fortress in the capitol is now under the control of the rebels? the war is not over yet. there are reports of fighting in some parts of tripoli and in other parts of the country. today was a turning point. my colleague now reports. >> once again it was nato that led today's assault on colonel gaddafi's compound. by midafternoon the rebels are pouring in side. their jubilation mixed with anger as they tore a part of the hated symbols of colonel gaddafi is roll. the famous sculpture of the american crushing fest. -- america-crushing fist. keeping up running battles with the die-hard supporters still holding out inside. this evening as we approach the
destroyed the compound, the debris all around. in the air, a puff of smoke. someone firing rpg's. the fighting suddenly started. it is a chaotic situation outside colonel gaddafi's compound several hours after it was overrun. the rebels are firing their guns into the air. behind me, fire coming from the right. definitely still fighting going on here tonight. suddenly from celebration, they were back fighting again. the fighters are confident this is the end. >> libya is a new country. >> less than a mile away in green square this evening, hundreds began coming out again to celebrate. colonel gaddafi and his sons have still not been caught. their whereabouts are still a
mystery. in other parts of the city, sporadic fighting continues. after one false start on sunday, -- stop on sunday, the people believe they're witnessing the end of 42 years of gaddafi's dictatorship. >> tripoli tonight is the city of euphoric celebration. this is a city of 2 million people including some who remain colonel gaddafi's supporters. some are his loyalists. they will continue to fight for their leader. tripoli is a divided city. >> the battle for aaa remains intense. as rebels tried to push his forces out of the entire capital. a major symbolic prize was the capture of colonel gaddafi's fortified compound.
>> the compound is being stormed by the anti gaddafi forces. it is not over yet. there is still a difficult and dangerous situation. there are many people out there with weapons who would pay to be loyal. >> what is the bigger picture of the battle? how much do we know about who controls which part of the capitol? >> from a variety of credible sources large in expanding parts of the capital are in rebel hands. they're not all necessarily entirely secure. these are some of the areas where gaddafi has lost control. the big break is the storming of the compound. you can see the outer wall reached by the rebels as they overran the ski area. denying that libyan leader one more potential hiding place. in a corner, a substantial military installation hit by nato missiles weeks ago. and then at the center of the compound, an area used for
scores of rallies. we have seen the rebels pulling down gaddafi's statute. symbolism -- the symbolism is immense. does this mean game over? not quite. after all he is still a large tree in >> and son -- so is his son. the appeal it -- the appearance of his son was a propaganda coup. despite claims that had captured him. it damage the prosecutor at the international criminal court. haguel be in the facing charges against khomeni. first they have to be caught. >> today there are reports the
rebel council will come to tripoli tomorrow. they face a daunting task. to convince libyans and the world that can be united. what a challenge they face. this is a country which after four years of colonel gaddafi's revolutionary rule has none of the institutions of a typical society like trade unions or any unions or human rights groups or political parties. the kind of institutions that are helping libya and egypt deal with their own revolution. what kind of ideas will they have of for the new post- khaddafi feature -- future? >> they are students, businessmen, teachers, most holding a gun for the first time. the result was no outside help. it would have been crushed but for nato's help. now the rebels stand on the brink of victory. already recognized by many as
libyas the legitimate government. are the united? the national transitional council is a mix of factions. with little more in common than dislike of colonel gaddafi. it is a coalition between the east and west of the country and religious and sector -- secular. members of the regime and exiles. it is a potpourri of different ideas and ideology. if they all work within the same for work, the constitution, then everybody will have their own thoughts and sit with a thing. >> the country's leader may be mustafa jaleel. his revolution has produced no single forceful personality. perhaps after 42 years of gaddafi, another strong man is the last thing libyans want.
will the rebels succeed? the new government could be destabilized if there is widespread looting. >> we have learned where the police and security people left their jobs and we have problems. triplet will not do that. there are [unintelligible] >> there is immense joy but there is also a relief. this is the first place the revolution in the early days is far from certain. there is a recognition there is a difficult part to be ahead. governing this fractured and traumatized nation. the immediate task for the labor -- leadership is to stop revenge killings. that would undermine the legitimacy of any new
government. the new libya, they say, cannot begin with a blood bath. >> extraordinary developments here. the tearing down of statues and the symbols of power have drawn comparisons to saddam hussein's iraq in 2003. it took eight months to topple the iraqi leader. the big question is where is colonel gaddafi who had such a highly personalized rule and domination of this country? libyans say they cannot truly celebrate and say that the iraq is over until he himself is either put on trial or dealt with in some way. we will continue to keep you updated. >> the eyes of the world are on tripoli tonight. what is happening in the rest of
the country? we have to underline that there is still pockets of resistance in other parts of the country. when we tried to come into libya from tunisia, there was a coastal road, a direct route that we could not take because we were told there was fighting along one stretch of the road between colonel gaddafi's fighters and the rebels. there was negotiations between the two sides. some of the drivers were saying to us come out they were worried that there was still fighting close to tripoli. we were able to come through without incident. there are parts where there are fighters loyal to colonel gaddafi. to the east, it is believed that some supporters have gone there. and to continue to put up resistance against the rebels. we can not say is over but it is
in its dying day. >> thank you. we will return to our main story in a moment. now for a look at some of the day's other news. a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the east coast of the united states. the epicenter was between charlottesville and richmond in virginia. it was so powerful it could be felt several hundred miles away in boston. david willis reports. >> the earthquake rattled nerves up and down america's east coast. it forced the automatic shutdown of two reactors and nuclear power plant in virginia. >> the standard has protected. i have been through earthquakes in seattle. >> this is our new [inaudible]
>> the commercial was being filmed as the quake struck. >> what was that? >> the white house was evacuated because of the earthquake. so too was the pentagon and other government buildings. president obama was not here at the time. he is on holiday in martha's vineyard. this is the strongest earthquake in this part of the world in living memory. many of those who were here were left pretty shaken up. thousands of office workers took to the streets after being evacuated from their building. >> it is kind of scary. the building shook. you could i never felt it before. you could feel it kind of coming. you do not know what is until it is over and then you realize what it was. i have to be -- happened to be looking out the window and saw the building moving. >> everything starts shaking. everyone is wondering what is going on. the other -- they said it was an
earthquake and that we needed to get our the building. >> how long did it last? >> about a minute, minute and a half. >> several buildings were affected. among them, the national cathedral in washington. suffering damage to a central tower. and traffic gridlock after government workers were sent home early. seismologists say the quake was shallow. its impact was felt over a wide area. rarely has the earth moved this close to the seat of power. >> former international monetary fund chief dominique strauss- kahn has said his nightmare is over after a new york judge threw out sexual assault charges made against him. he was accused of attacking a made in his hotel room. our correspondent sent this report from new york. >> there was a hint of a gallic
smile as dominique strauss-kahn arrived at court as a defendant. it was over in minutes. the judge granting a request by prosecutors to drop all charges. he looked composed, relieved. but not jubilant. in the glare of an international media spotlight, this highly charged case comes to an abrupt end. the man once talked about as the next president of france is free to rebuild his career and resume his life. he broke his silence outside the town house rented by a loyal wife. >> i am relieved. my wife, children, and france, all those who supported me by sending me letters and e-mails, i want to return to my country, but i have to take care of a few things first. >> his accuser was not in court. she did share a brief sexual
encounter, forensic evidence showed that there was no proof it had been forced. prosecutors decided a jury would not blame her because she lied repeatedly to investigators. outside court, protesters call that justice denied. >> she should have her day in court to testify as to what happened to her. it is constantly happening to black women throughout history in this country. >> what now for a man his journey from statesman to suspect was as compelling as it was shocking? in paris, they watched, wondering whether he might just returned to front-line politics. >> i would not vote for him. despite the fact think it is the best -- he is the best one to run the country. >> if he were a candidate i
would vote for him. >> in manhattan, the second judge has rejected an appeal by the legal team. what dominique strauss-kahn called a nightmare is over. >> returning to our top story. the continuing battle for tripoli. for look at what happens next, i'm joined by a former adviser to the u.s. state department and mark ginsburg. do you think that transitional council is up to the job? restore law-and-order and unite the country? >> i do not know if we know the answer to that yet. it is premature. the transitional national council is largely a council that has been led by the former justice minister. he does not have the charisma to unite the country which is
basically a divided country. there is a great division between the transitional national council that originated in benghazi in those trouble leaders and opponents to the regime in tripoli as well as the west like ion laz rudder. they were unhappy over the failure of the council to provide adequate military resistance. can they restore safety and stability to tripoli as quickly as possible? that will be the most important task. >> when do you think we will see a functioning democracy in this country? is that possible at the moment? >> a functioning democracy is a rather distant goal. this country was ruled by a brutal dictatorship for decades. it is deeply divided along tribal lines. it has gone now to a harrowing -- through a harrowing civil war. half it has no political parties.
its security forces are we. the task at hand is state building. on top of that, you can have a function -- functioning political system. >> what is the role of the international community at this stage? >> i think if there ever was nation-building, we're talking about from the ground up. there has been no civil society, no unions. i have been to libya twice. you basically had a nonfunctioning existing political structure in the country. as a result, the most important thing here and the thing that is most concerning is can this national council reach out and become more inclusive? tribal elders stayed out of the council. people in tripoli, that will be the key. whether or not people fall behind the leadership of this
council including the military leaders means people will want to grab for that oil resources. the regime absconded with the wealth of the country. >> the u.s. and u.k. have ruled out putting troops on the ground. what if the country descends into civil war? who was going to have to step in? >> there is a need a mandate for protecting civilians. if there is -- fighting continues in a way this civilians are threatened, that mandate can be extended. the key issue of whether or not western countries are willing to put some kind of a protective troop force on the ground in order to separate the fighting sides to bring stability to the country even in iraq, there was the u.s. troops that could perform that function, that is not present in libya. there is a chance that peace will not come to libya very quickly. we could have fighting going on.
>> ambassador, do you see the policy changing in the u.s.? do you see a future where troops on the ground may be necessary. >> no. i do not believe the president will want to take a forward position on this. italy has a particular interest in this. we have an interest in the stability and the success of this democratic revolution. i do not think the president or the american people believe that putting the u.s. on the ground is going to help the situation. this has to be a libyan originated democratic reform movement. it is viewed by the islamists in libya as anything more than that, as an american sponsored initiative, it will undermine the more secular elements and that is the last thing we want to see happen. >> when can we say that this current stage of the conflict has ended? is it when colonel gaddafi has
been captured? >> we have ended this stage in that the rebels have won. the problem is while gaddafi is at large, he can be a rallying point for assistance and insurgencies of the kind we saw in iraq while saddam hussein and his lieutenants were large. that would make good job of stabilizing the government more difficult. the rebellion has one. by getting gaddafi and putting him out of business, you make everything that we said has to happen more easy to happen. >> do you feel it is likely that he will be captured? >> i think he is going to be captured. i think he could have died in his bunker and he chose not to. where he may have fled to, i think he has had six months to prepare for this eventuality along with his sons. it is conceivable he may have mali.o chat or mollchad or
german companies build his bunkers. there is one thing i am certain about. he prepared for this day. >> if he is captured alive, what happens next? should he be tried in the international criminal court or should libya try him? >> there is an indictment. that potentiality always exists but it is better if he faces his own people in his own country. if there can be a judicial system that can be seen by all libyans and arabs impartial and capable of prosecuting him in an open way and we do not end up in a way where he is murdered and can become a political problem. >> thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> for more from the ground in libya and the events which have transpired, we can now return to theithe bbc.
as you watch these pictures tonight, how do they compare with your previous experiences? >> the euphoric celebration is much the same as we saw in tunis, that we saw after the 18 day uprising, the revolution, they called it. the people who gathered tonight in celebration in green square, square.mardermartyr this has been more of a brutal civil war. it has gone on longer than many expected. more lives have been lost than expected. it has created a certainty and fear and of course, a lot of hardship and pain. tonight, they are celebrating in tripoli.
it all happened here for more quickly than anyone expected. you heard first the sounds of gunfire, an exchange of gunfire on saturday. it led to the rebels storming the city on sunday with many of them explaining that the city had fallen. today, they attacked one of the symbols of power. the heavily fortified compound in tripoli that has been the seat of power. the place of protection for colonel gaddafi and his family. extraordinary scenes of tearing down statues, preparing to shred the symbols of this regime. almost 42 years to the day, power anda young soldier took promoted himself as colonel. now his days as leader are counted. it is not over yet but libyans are looking to a new and they have a different future. keep an eye on all the